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No legal provision for probe on SL

2014 Mar 19

External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris yesterday raised ethical concerns on UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay heading a probe on human rights allegations against Sri Lanka while pointing out that she was neither legally nor financially provisioned to carry out such an inquiry.

The minister told a discussion held at the Mahaweli Center organised by the National Intellectual Council that under the present circumstances Ms. Pillay had already made her stance explicitly clear on the human rights allegations against Sri Lanka and the war against the LTTE.

He said as such it was unethical to appoint her to head a probe against Sri Lanka, on which a detailed report is due to be submitted to the UNHRC in 2015.

“One does not have to be a legal mastermind to realize that this move is unjust because she will not approach the inquiry with an open mind. While the war was continuing she said the Sri Lankan government was perpetrating atrocities against the Tamil people under the guise of terrorism, which implied that there was no threat of terrorism in Sri Lanka and it was simply a creation of the Government. Not more than a week after the war ended in 2009, she called for an international inquiry against the Sri Lankan Government. Under what basis did she call for such a move? These statements make it more than obvious that she is biased,” the minister said and added that they did not perceive the UNHRC inquiry against Sri Lanka as a balanced or fair measure.
The minister said some powerful nations were behaving as if there were two governments in Sri Lanka, making unnecessary interventions into the internal processes of the country.

“One government of Sri Lanka convenes at the parliament in Jayawardenapura while the other operates in Geneva. These forced interventions into Sri Lanka’s internal processes are a violation of the constitution as well,” he said.

He went on to state that during several meetings with foreign ministers during his visit to Geneva, he was informed that they were compelled to vote against Sri Lanka under duress from powerful nations upon whom they rely economically, financially or security-wise.

“Out of a total of 47 countries in the UNHRC, 13 are in Europe. Despite their individual beliefs these countries cast their vote as a bloc in line with the stance of the European Union. Moreover, the discussions I had with foreign ministers of several nations made it clear that their votes were not free of bias and were clouded by their bilateral relationships with the powerful nations,” he added.

Moreover, the minister said allegations of human rights violations were no longer being leveled against most countries under ethical or legal contexts but mostly as a political tool that could be used to attack selected countries to gain political advantage by powerful nations.

 “The Human Rights Commission was reinstated as a Council since it was criticised by the United Nations General Assembly as being ‘unduly politicised’. It is unfortunate that even following the reforms, the council continues to be ten-fold more biased and prejudiced than it was earlier.  The UNHRC resolution therefore does not reflect the international community’s impression of Sri Lanka,” he said. (Lakna Paranamanna)

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